Using Egg Substitutes To Control Costs And Quality In Cakes

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Partial egg replacement can reduce the cost of cake production and keep recipes soft, moist and appealing. By Inge Lise Povlsen, Senior Category Manager for Bakery at Arla Foods Ingredients.

Egg prices are going through an extended period of volatility. A number of events in the global egg production industry have impacted market conditions. In 2017 and 2018, for example, scares in the US and Europe involving Salmonella and the pesticide Fipronil caused big fluctuations in supply levels and prices. Looking forward, there are fears the EU could place import levies on egg powder in 2019, which would most likely exacerbate the situation. This is bad news for bakers, for whom eggs are an essential ingredient.

To address this situation, bakery experts at Arla Foods Ingredients have extensively researched the use of specially-formulated natural egg substitutes based on whey proteins in cake recipes. Subsequently, they have developed a range of tailored solutions that not only help bakers control their raw material costs but also deliver quality benefits. In trials, Arla Foods Ingredients’ experts have tested the performance of these whey protein-based egg replacers—called Nutrilac—in pound cakes (although they can be used in a wide range of cake applications).

Three recipes were tested:

  • 50 percent Nutrliac + 50 percent eggs
  • 50 percent standard WPC 80 + 50 percent eggs
  • 100 percent eggs (reference)

It is generally recommended that bakers should aim to replace no more than 50 percent of the eggs in a recipe because market insights show that consumers globally continue to view eggs as a desirable ingredient on product labels. Since the eggs used by industrial bakeries may be in liquid or dried pow­der form, we have developed a calculation key for egg replacement supported by Nutrilac (see Figure 1).

Higher Crumb Strength

Texture profile analysis was used to measure crumb strength and resilience. This is a mechanical test in which a cake sample is subject to a double compression, simulating the first and sec­ond bite in a sensory evaluation. In our trial, the Nutrilac cake displayed a slightly higher crumb strength compared with the reference cake, while crumb resilience was no different (see Figures 2 and 3). In the standard WPC 80 cake, crumb strength was similar to the reference. However, the crumb resilience was significantly lower, indicating that the cake texture would likely collapse when the first bite was taken.

Sensory evaluation by trained panels and texture profile analysis were used to measure taste and texture. As shown in Figure 4, there was no significant difference in homogeneity and crumb structure between the Nutrilac cake and the reference. On the other hand, the springiness of the crumb was noticeably improved in the Nutrilac recipe. In addition, crumb fragility was also im­proved, meaning the Nutrilac cake would be less crumbly.

Overall, the sensory panel perceived a significant improvement in freshness and moistness in the Nutrilac cake. By contrast, the WPC 80 cake was considered to have a dryer, more fragile crumb, lower resilience and a stickier mouthfeel. This underlines the difference between using a standard whey protein and a whey protein solution that has been tailored specifically to bakery applications.

The pound cakes evaluat­ed in our trials were manufactured using the same process parameters. The Nutrilac cake had a similar volume and appearance to the reference samples, while batter stability was also slightly improved. The volume of the cake produced from the WPC 80 recipe was noticeably smaller. In addition to sensory benefits, the improved crumb strength and springiness of the Nutrilac cake aided sliceability, stability and de-panning of the final product. All of these aspects can contribute to a reduction in waste.

Meanwhile, all cakes in the trial had similar dry matter and water activity, indicating that microbiological status was unchanged when using Nutrilac. This is in spite of this cake delivering a moister, fresher mouthfeel than both the reference and the WPC 80 recipes. This demonstrates that shelf life will not be affected by the use of Nutrilac egg substitutes, an important factor when considering profitability.

A Tailored Solution

Industrial bakers are under pressure to keep costs down and quality under control on their cake production lines. Our trials show that using Nutrilac whey proteins as a 50 percent egg substitute in cake recipes creates a more price-stable environment with less reliance on the volatile egg market. Furthermore, as shown in our sensory tests, quality can also be improved. The results of the sensory panel evaluation, however, also underline the need for a tailored whey protein solution, as opposed to a standard WPC 80.

For the many consumers who enjoy them, cakes are all about indulgence. As such, for industrial bakers, success will be measured by their ability to produce cakes that stay soft, moist and appealing for six months or longer after production. Eggs are seen as an essential ingredient for obtaining the right structure and texture of the final cake, and consumers also perceive them as natural and desirable on product labels. However, with egg prices and availability presenting an ongoing challenge, it’s clear to see that using Nutrilac egg replacers in cakes can deliver compelling benefits all-round.

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